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Cocktail Service, ca. 1932

This is a Cocktail service. It was designed by Russel Wright. It is dated ca. 1932. Its medium is spun aluminum, walnut, cork. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Radically changing American domestic design, Russel Wright’s design career took off in 1930 when he established his own workshop in New York City. At this time he began working with aluminum, beginning with small animals hand-cut from aluminum sheets that were then sold in specialty shops. This was an outgrowth of his experience working in theatre set and costume design, where Wright did a lot of designs for stage props. Additionally, around 1930, he began designing household objects for retail, producing a line of barware accessories in spun pewter. The success of this line led him to continue experimenting with pewter and then chromium-plated steel but the manufacturing costs of both materials were too high for him to continue, and he soon began using spun aluminum as an alternative. Its low-manufacturing cost combined with its ability to emulate the look of pewter, allowed Wright to fashion multiple shapes and forms for the 1930's domestic interior. His line of informal serving accessories uses an array of spherical and conical forms which are a by-product of the spinning process. Design historian Penny Sparke has described Wright’s use of aluminum as having “played a key role in transforming the aluminum object into a an icon of modernity, an accepted domestic object that was closely integrated with feminine culture but, at the same time, manifested an uncompromising modern aesthetic.” [1] Both Wright and consumers embraced his modern spherical forms because of their simplicity, price, and Wright’s emphasis on informal entertaining. Wright also pioneered many of the marketing strategies behind his informal serving accessories, which contributed to their success. The punch and cocktail sets are iconic pieces of his spun aluminum series. Their spherical forms conjure up images of progress and modernity, while representing an early and important part of Wright’s design career.
[1] Lindsay Stamm Shapiro, Russel Wright Creating American Lifestyle (New York, NY: H.N. Abrams, 2001), 27.

This object was donated by George R. Kravis II. It is credited Gift of George R. Kravis II.

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Its dimensions are

H x diam. (Carafe): 28.6 × 15.9 cm (11 1/4 × 6 1/4 in.) H x diam. (Tray): 3 × 33 cm (1 3/16 in. × 13 in.) H x diam. (Cups): 5.7 × 8.3 cm (2 1/4 × 3 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Cocktail Service, ca. 1932; Designed by Russel Wright ((American, 1904–1976)); spun aluminum, walnut, cork; H x diam. (Carafe): 28.6 × 15.9 cm (11 1/4 × 6 1/4 in.) H x diam. (Tray): 3 × 33 cm (1 3/16 in. × 13 in.) H x diam. (Cups): 5.7 × 8.3 cm (2 1/4 × 3 1/4 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2018-22-49-a/j

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Cocktail Service, ca. 1932 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=2 October 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>